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ReadHouston.com (link in bio) is a website dedicated to promoting Houston's active literary scene by providing a comprehensive listing of book events taking place in the greater Houston area. ReadHouston.com currently lists book events hosted by @murderbooks, @bluewillowbooks, and @brazosbookstore. We’re working to add Houston’s other bookstores as well. #readhouston #bookstagram #indiebookstore #bookstoreday #houstontx
When it launched on Independent Bookstore Day, the reaction to ReadHouston.com was immediate and excited.
“It was really great,” says John McDougall of Murder By The Book. “When we told people about the website, they were happy to have everything in one place.”
That’s the goal of the site, a kind of one-stop shop for Houston’s literary and book community. It’s a comprehensive calendar of author events, signings, and other happenings of interest to book lovers. Spearheaded by Houston’s four main independent bookstores—Murder By The Book, Blue Willow Bookshop, Brazos Bookstore, and River Oaks Bookstore—and soon to include events from Budget Books in Katy, the site is an easy way for Houston readers to see what’s going on across the city. “We’re hoping it closes a gap left by the Houston Chronicle drastically cutting literary and book coverage,” says McDougal.
In addition to the website, there’s a social media component to ReadHouston, with accounts for it on both Instagram and Twitter.
“It’s a cool thing for Houston readers because ReadHouston’s social media groups allow for a clearinghouse for these events,” says Joy Preble, the children’s and teen programming manager at Brazos Bookstore. “Houston is such a diverse literary city, and however we can inform people about that and get them excited about that is great.”
While many readers are familiar with larger stores like Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble, and many more likely order books from Amazon, they may be less familiar with Houston’s indie stores, all of which have carefully curated selections and are staffed with avid readers eager to share their views on new works, favorite writers, and must-attend events. Brazos Bookstore alone hosts more than 350 author and non-author events. Murder By the Book hosts some of the hottest names in crime fiction, as well as offering book clubs. Blue Willow specializes in children’s literature and has an extensive list of resources for educators, but those store also offers books and events for adults.
With so much happening at the city’s smaller bookshops, it can be hard for readers to keep up. ReadHouston allows them to see when their own favorite authors are turning up in town, as well as checking out other reading-related activities.
“We’ve had customers tell us that they’re loving ReadHouston,” says McDougall. “One of them hadn’t realized that Delia Owens [author of Where the Crawdads Sing] was coming to Blue Willow. So, we’re thrilled it’s working the way we hoped.”
Preble pointed out that the calendar allows the stores to reach a wider audience, and it also shows the sort of support Houston’s independent stores have for one another.
“We’re just so excited to be part of ReadHouston, and to be doing it in partnerships with our friends at other stores who we love and who are awesome is fantastic,” she says. “This really lets readers see how vibrant Houston’s literary scene is.”
Follow the ongoing effort at ReadHouston.com.